Signs of election season can be seen everywhere, with both Romney and Obama campaigning ruthlessly. Commercial air time on television is full of both candidates mercilessly undermining one another. In the midst of the heated debate, teenagers are left wishing they could participate. Since they cannot vote, most teens mistakenly believe that they can’t make a difference so the election does not concern them. However, voting is not the only way teens can get involved in the upcoming election and they should care about it because it affects their future. As Alejandra Salinas, the national President of College Democrats said: “When you’re eighteen, some people don’t take you seriously and it’s hard to get recognized. But in politics, whether you are fifteen or fifty, your voice can have the same impact.”
One of the best ways to get directly involved in a campaign is by volunteering. Alex Schriver, the Chairman of College Republicans explains the importance and benefits of volunteering: “Use volunteering as an opportunity to learn what others have to say and refine your political beliefs. Also, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment from working for a campaign and getting to experience so many different things, from knocking on doors to making phone calls or working in headquarters.”
Volunteering means getting the opportunity to experience first-hand the work and strategy that goes into running a successful campaign. It is a chance to see what really goes into keeping a candidate in office, as television does not do the process justice. Even working on a local campaign in the city will give teens the opportunity to learn how local government works and will show them how to make a difference in the community. Volunteering can even spark an interest in politics or campaign management later in life! This experience will make teens informed citizens—they will have an understanding of government and will know more about rules and policies. Research has proven that working on something is a lot more beneficial than simply reading about it. From a local election to the national one, teenagers’ can make a difference and can gain a lot of experience and knowledge from volunteering in a campaign.
Another way for teens to immerse themselves in the political world is by serving as an election clerk. The California Secretary of State implemented the Student Poll Worker Program in Los Angeles County and Ventura County, in which high school students above the age of sixteen have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process on Election Day while receiving hourly wages. This is an opportunity for students to understand how the electoral process works and why it is so important. Poll workers set up and close polling places, help voters understand their rights (blilingual students are a big plus), and protect ballots and voting equipment.
From volunteering in a campaign to being a poll worker, there are a variety of ways teenagers can get involved in the election season frenzy and make a difference.